Many fire brigades around the UK have changed the way that they respond to automatic fire alarms and these changes will need to be reflected in each businesses fire risk assessments. From April it’s the policy of many brigades to challenge any automatic alarm between the hours of 06:00 – 18:00. Unless the incident can be confirmed then an engine will not be sent.
The changes are in response to research that has shown that unwanted fire calls are costing around £1 billion per year. Added to this where repeated false alarms occur, the persons occupying the buildings often become complacent, which could put lives at risk.
Up until April 2013 fire engines will continue to be sent between 18:00 – 06:00 when an automatic alarm is raised and where a procedure is not in place to confirm a fire.
We understand from Kent Fire & Rescue that around a third of all calls attended have been found to be false alarms. In many instances these have resulted from poorly maintained alarm systems.
These changes will mean that businesses will need to review their fire procedures to be clear what to do in the event an alarm goes off. They will need to have procedures for checking for signs of fire and the need to confirm the findings to the brigade. All of this will need to be reflected in the fire risk assessment.
As many businesses have taken the approach to advise staff and others to vacate if the alarm goes off; then these changes will need a rethink and may require some changes to staff training.